Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Today's broadcast of Fresh Air on NPR discusses the FCC and censorship issues. Terry Gross interviews four different people and discusses issues of censorship as well as the confusion among producers and broadcasters concerning what will or will not earn them fines. And this is a big issue currently as the FCC levies larger and larger fines while the concept of what content earns fines becomes more difficult for everyone to decide.

The final interview is with Tim Winter who is the executive director of Parent's Television Council. What he has to say, in my opinion, is mostly a steaming pile of crap. What many of these people end up saying in different ways is very telling of our growing desire in the US to let go of the responsibilities we should all have as parents. For the most part, these people seem to get it all wrong for the least mentioned of reasons.

Tim Winter referred to the Super Bowl/Janet Jackson boob shot as a striptease. This to me is indicative of the current wave of wording things in a way that is not accurate but is intended solely to ignite a certain passion. A brief view of booby is not a striptease, and considering the overabundance of commercials for drugs to help men achieve erections, one must ask why we are still so worried about a boob. Impotence drugs are much more likely to raise questions from kids that parents may want to avoid. My children are well aware of and unconcerned with a woman's breast, but they are at a young age at which I feel they are not yet ready for discussions of sex, and of these two subjects, male erections would seem more deserving of censorship.

Tim Winter further categorizes anyone with problems with censorship as people who want to get away with anything they want. He would demonize producers, writers, singer and any number of people, painting them as irresponsible. Once again, rather than honesty, we are served inflammatory language intended solely to incite the passions.

Who is to blame here though? Are the people doing the cussing guilty of corrupting young minds? How much blame should the parents shoulder for allowing their children to view things that may be inappropriate? I am very much able to understand the sorts of things my children may be exposed to, and I understand that I am the one tasked with raising and teaching them.

It is not government's place nor is it television's place to raise my children. I certainly expect some amount of understanding from the networks in what they air, and I have certain expectations of different channels based on their target audience. For this same reason, while I may let my children watch certain shows, I know to change the channel during commercial breaks on certain networks at certain times. I also know to avoid certain programs that may have content I prefer them not see or hear. As their parent, it is fully within my rights to dictate what they do or do not watch. It is both my responsibility and prerogative to check on them and know what they are listening to or watching.

According the NPR website, the Fresh Air episode will be available to listen to online at 3:00 today. It's worth a listen and not just because Terry Gross is so, so cool.